What is good math teaching?

QUINT researcher Dr. Jennifer M. Luoto discusses how we can understand good mathematics teaching from different perspectives of classroom research.

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Lecture: "What is good teaching in mathematics and how do we know?"

Identifying “good teaching” is considered to be one of the greatest challenges in educational research today. In this lecture Dr. Jennifer M. Luoto discusses how we can understand good mathematics teaching from different perspectives of classroom research, and why it is so difficult to determine what good teaching and good mathematics teaching is.

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Dr. Jennifer Maria Luoto is a researcher at the University of Oslo. She has recently defended her dissertation at the Department of Teacher Education and School Research at University of Oslo. She is an active participant of the QUINT research project LISA Nordic Study, representing Norway. This project is a large-scale video study, investigating the quality of teaching in Nordic classrooms. The project is set in lower secondary school (grades 7–9 in Sweden, Denmark and Finland and grades 8 – 10 in Norway and Iceland), targeting instruction in language arts, mathematics, and social science in all the five Nordic countries.

Luoto's PhD project "Exploring, understanding, and problematizing patterns of instructional quality: A study of instructional quality in Finnish–Swedish and Norwegian lower secondary mathematics classrooms" comprises three articles and is situated in the field of cross-national observation research on instructional quality in mathematics education. It investigates patterns of instructional quality in lower secondary mathematics classrooms in Finnish-Swedish and Norwegian contexts (Helsinki and Oslo areas). The overarching research question is: How can patterns of instructional quality be understood through observation systems and teachers’ perspectives? It investigates this phenomenon from three different perspectives; as observed by a standardized observation system; from two Finnish teachers’ perspectives on their own discourse practices; and from a critical perspective of possible biases in observation systems when applied in and across different classroom contexts.

Article Ⅰ investigates instructional quality in 16 Finnish and Norwegian lower secondary mathematics classrooms, comprising 47 video-recorded lessons using a standardized observation system. Central findings point to distinct patterns of instructional quality across these contexts, with an individualized and content-focused mathematics instruction in Helsinki and more varied and student-engaging practices in Oslo classrooms. Article Ⅱ investigates two Finnish mathematics teachers’ instructional rationales for differently enacted discourse practices in 9th grade classrooms using video and interview data. Central findings are that while the two teachers enacted very different discourse practices, they rationalized their practices with similar concerns for student learning, well-being and equity. Article Ⅲ investigates possible biases in standardized observation systems capturing instructional quality when applied in Nordic lower secondary mathematics classrooms. This is a theoretical and methodological contribution using empirical examples from 47 video-recorded lessons illustrating how contextual factors such as lesson structure may have consequences for the results.

The findings together contribute with knowledge of typical features of mathematics instruction in these two contexts as well as how patterns of instructional quality may be understood from the perspectives of teachers and observation systems. 


Jennifer Maria Luoto, Exploring, understanding, and problematizing patterns of instructional quality: A study of instructional quality in Finnish-Swedish and Norwegian lower secondary mathematics classrooms, 2021, http://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-88324 (link to the institutional archive)

Published May 25, 2021 11:30 AM - Last modified May 25, 2021 11:30 AM